“Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It’s Arrested Development.”
So began each episode of one of the funniest, smartest, and most unfairly treated shows in the history of television. That intro, spoken by executive producer and narrator Ron Howard, fairly sums up the premise of the show. With his father in prison for “light treason,” Michael Bluth (played by professional straight man Jason Bateman) must run the family company while trying to keep his spoiled family in line. It’s a premise ripe for comedy, and one that creator Mitch Hurwitz exploited to great effect. He was aided by one of the best comedic ensemble casts since Seinfeld, including star-making turns from Michael Cera and Will Arnett (whose character GOB remains one of the funniest sitcom characters of all time).
However, despite Hurwitz’s best efforts and almost universal critical acclaim, Arrested Development never gained much of an audience during its original run. The show certainly wasn’t helped by its network, Fox, which regularly changed the night it aired, put it up against Monday Night Football, and even aired episodes of the mostly serialized comedy out of their proper order. During its third season the show saw its episode order cut from 22 to 13, and Fox unceremoniously dumped the final four episodes opposite the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
While rumors that the show would be picked up by another network never came to pass, the series has gained a second life on DVD and via Netflix instant streaming, and now has a massive cult following. A movie script is in the works, with all of the main cast said to be interested in returning.